Delirium by Lauren Oliver (review copy) - There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.
Then, at last, they found the cure.
Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable. From Amazon UK
After reading and falling in love with Before I Fall* last year, I was extremely excited to read Delirium - except for one thing; dystopian novels and I don't really get on. There are the odd dystopias I come across that work, but more often than not, I don't enjoy them. I spend too long being angry and annoyed at the world the people live in, and although that's the whole point, I don't like feeling like that for a whole book. But Delirium is by Lauren Oliver. Lauren Oliver! There was no way I couldn't at leat give it a go, and so I warily opened it's pages, and became infected; I fell in love.
For the first few chapters, I was a little worried I wouldn't like it because it was typically dystopian. I was quite shocked. From the blurb, I just thought taking the cure was an option you could take, but you find out pretty soon it's compulsory. In the world our main character Lena lives in, no-one is allowed to love, it's illegal and punishable, in the worst case scenario, by death. Once you reach 18, you take the cure. Students about to graduate are Evaluated so they can find a match for them, and once they have graduated from college, they marry the person they chose from the small selection they were given. Free from love. People are not allowed to speak the word "love", they're not allowed to overly show affection - that means no hugs for friends, or children when they have fallen over. Oh yes, this is not just romantic love that is cured, but all love - familal love and love for friends included. Students are segregated from members of the opposite sex and have to be home before curfew, so there is no intermingling outside of school hours. And when you've had the cure, you're detached, and cold almost. Think Sheldon or Leonard's Mum in The Big Bang Theory, without being extremely intelligent or arrogant - everyone over the age of 18 is like that! It's the type of world I hate and makes me extremely angry.
But then Alex arrived, and the whole tone of the story changed. Lena's world is turned upside down when she starts doubting everything she's believed, everything she knows, and falls in love. And my heart lifted. I can't even begin to tell you just how beautiful this story is. It's probably the most powerful teen romance I have ever read simply because they fall in love against a background which has an extreme lack of love. In most other books, love is normal; it might not be happening for the main character at the beginning, but they live in a world where people have boyfriends and girlfriends, they're allowed to show effection, there is nothing life-threatening about love. But there is in Lena's world, so her falling in love is scary, dangerous, and wrong, but just so right, and beautiful and amazing. This is one forbidden love story (quite literally) that shines a hundred times brighter than all the rest, and it's just gorgeous! I really can't do this book any justice when it comes to the love in it, there just aren't words. It's just... wow, and totally blew me away.
What I also loved about this book was how genius it is. The idea that love could be a disease is quite a logical one when you look at the "symptoms" of falling in love; difficulty focussing, reduced mental awareness, periods of euphoria, changes in appetite, loss of other interests, and so on (p133). All things that people actually experience in real life when they fall in love. To take something like the effects of love, and build a whole story on that... it's just brilliant! I am in awe of Oliver's imagination!
I am also in awe of Oliver's way with words. The language in this book is just beautiful! Oliver is the queen of metaphors, and the language is almost poetic. It really is just beautiful.
"Love, the deadliest of all deadly things: it kills you both when you have it and when you don't.
But that isn't it, exactly.
The condemner and the condemned. The executioner; the blade; the last-minute reprieve; the gasping breath and the rolling sky above you and the thank you, thank you, thank you, God.
Love: it will kill you and save you, both." (p352)
Isn't that just wonderful?
The ending is just cruel yet phenomenal! I can't even begin to describe it, but I finished the book wanting to pick the second book up straight away! I need Pandemonium, the sequel, now! However, it isn't released until next year. I have to wait a whole year in this agony of not knowing what happens! I love it, though! I really cannot wait. I cannot recommend this book enough, you need to read it. It might just be top of my list of favourite books.
*Review coming in July as part of Death and Bereavement Month.
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for the review copy.
Published: 3rd February 2011 in the UK, 1st February in the US
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pre-order from Amazon UK
Pre-order from Amazon US
Lauren Oliver's Website
Writing from the Tub
The Crooked Shelf